Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Tutorial: Covering a seat cushion

Yes! Another post of a chair I'm working on. This time I have 4 chairs that belong to a dining set I spontaneously purchased last month. But I'm becoming predictable with the whole chair upholstery/redo aren't I? Well you just wait. Below is a total deviation from my usual look. Perhaps now you're a little curious and want to see if what I'm saying is true? Ah HAH! I knew it!

So are you ready? Here we go! Covering a simple seat cushion IS as easy as they say. Here's what you need:
Electric stapler - I use a Stanley TRE550 stapler/brad nailer that can take various staple sizes. I love it! Of course you could also use a manual or pneumatic one...lucky you if you have a pneumatic!
Staples - I'm using 3/8 in staples
Upholstery Fabric
Small hammer

And obviously you need a chair to recover! Here's the seat cushion for the chair I'm covering. At one point it was light blue, now it has hints of brown and yellow in it. Nope, not my preferred color scheme.

Make sure your new fabric has been washed and cleaned. It's also a good idea to iron it if it has wrinkles. If you're using a patterned fabric like I am for my latest project, decide how you want the pattern to look on the cushion. And yes for all of you unbelievers, I'm using a patterned fabric instead of canvas drop cloth! SEE? DIFFERENT! Look out! Emily's gone CRAZY!!!

Okay, whew! Got a little excited. Let's get back to the task at hand. Cut out the fabric about 1 1/2 - 2 in wider than the cushion. Place the fabric upside down and lay the cushion upside down on top of it. Now, staple away! Start the first staple in the middle of the front of the cushion, next staple the middle of the back of the cushion, then the left side and right side. Make sure to pull the fabric firmly before each staple. If you have a patterned fabric, make sure to check each time that the pattern is straight. Here's a lovely picture to illustrate my stapling technique (only showing staples 1-8...I use more staples than this in reality).

If you're wondering how far apart my staples are, there's about 1 1/2 in of space between each one. If some of your staples don't lay flat, it helps to use a small hammer to hammer it in all the way. Also if a staple doesn't end up where you intended it to go (mine do that all the time...those tricky devils), then use a screwdriver and pliers to pull it out. You could also use a staple lifter tool if you have one. 

I avoid all of the corners until the very end. Now that you have all of the sides stapled. You're left with corners that look like this:

Try to copy the original fabric fold you can see underneath. If they did a horrible job before though, then just try to follow my directions as close as you can. Do a test run and fold the fabric to see how it looks. Try not to create more than one crease on the side of the cushion. Also, try to crease the fabric towards the back of the cushion, not the front. Pay close attention to where the fold is and where there's extra fabric underneath. Carefully cut off the excess fabric. It should look something like this.
Now fold and flatten the bottom piece, and fold the top piece over. Staple in place (usually 2-3 staples will do the trick).

This is what it should look like from above. Nice and neat and only 1 crease! Such a comfy cozy little bundle.

By the way, I'm guessing everyone does it differently so I want to make it clear that this is just what works for me! Here's what my cushion looks like afterwards. How did yours turn out?

Most of my pictures were taken at night so the fabric looks a little yellow. The last picture is how the fabric really looks. And I'm not showing the whole chair yet, instead here's a teaser! Stay tuned for the exciting finale later this week!

Linking to:
PhotobucketMy Uncommon Slice of Suburbia mommahenscoopTransformation Thursday


  1. What a great tutorial!

  2. Your corners are so nice, that's the area I always struggle with. Thank you for the tutorial:)

  3. I am so in love with the cover and pattern of this cushion! I can't wait to see the whole chair. Thank you for sharing on WhateverWednesday! Hope to see you back next week :)

  4. That looks SOOO good!! I love the fabric so much. And, the corners look great - I need to work on that. Thanks for sharing the how-to.

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  6. So glad you like the fabric! My first upholstery venture outside the drop cloth comfort zone.

  7. that fabric is just gorgeous! great tutorial, too!

  8. That is EXACTLY the fabric I want for my dining chairs ... just seats! Where did you get it?

  9. I got it at Hobby Lobby. It's originally $16.99 but they're still having a 30% sale on fabric. Or if you're lucky, maybe they'll have a 40% off coupon soon! Of course you won't need so spend as much money as I did since you won't need to cover the seat backs!

  10. Such pretty fabric and great tutorial. Thanks so much for linking to WUW last week.